A classic first year vet student move is to pay dues to multiple vet clubs during the fall activity fair. Sure, Avian Club dues were only $5, but as they do primarily field trips, it was hard to find a trip I could attend. So when I heard they were holding a wet lab the first weekend of the spring semester, I knew I had to go, if only to get my money’s worth!
And boy, was that Saturday worth it. Not only did they provide a sumptuous, plentiful breakfast from Panera, there was even coffee. (Coffee is the main reason I get up in the morning…) After a nice half hour of chatting with the other 19 attendees, we jumped right in. I was fascinated by my first station, hematology, where we were shown slides containing various common blood parasites and learned how to identify the different blood cells seen in the smear. The station that demonstrated how to approach, hold, and restrain wild birds was particularly helpful, and it was nice to practice some simple technical skills like administering subcutaneous fluids and intubation. I hadn’t realized until that station that I had never touched a bird before—ever!
A student who had received summer research funding taught us the basics of an avian necropsy, and I was fascinated by the fact that you could see the feather shafts from the UNDERSIDE of the skin! We haven’t learned avian anatomy yet, but it was nice to review the anatomy I had learned in undergrad and get a little sneak peek of what’s to come. We also practiced placing interosseous catheters and palpating fractures on (deceased) specimens, as well as receiving an introduction to bandaging and egg-binding treatment. I had such a great time and had a blast being able to see so many bird species up close!